Manohla Dargis Has To Be A Character From A Pynchon Novel

It wasn’t until we read her wonderful review of Inherent Vice in the New York Times that we made the connection we’ve been groping toward for years: Manohla Dargis has to be a Pynchon character?  R-r-r-ight?  With a name like that.

We loved her review, and can’t wait to see the first Pynchon novel ever to make its way onto the Silver Screen.  And we loved the book, fell for it even in advance of publication, when Pynchon released the teaser he narrated, that’s right, it was his voice on the trailer advertising the book about life in Venice Beach in the post-Manson paranoia of 1969.

But what we most loved about Dargis’ review was this:

“Every movie set in Los Angeles is also about all the many films made in it. In that sprawling back lot, illusions about men, women, God and country are manufactured, which are often harshly at odds with the city’s off-screen reality. Mr. Anderson nods to the complex relationship between those real-life and representational histories, folding in march-of-time moments alongside evocations of Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye.””

Just like what we read earlier in the week in Anthony Lane’s fantastic review in the New Yorker, in which he wrote:

“If that reminds you of chewed-over Chandler, you’re not wrong, and one of the fables on which “Inherent Vice” ruminates is “The Long Goodbye,” and the loping, unflustered movie that Robert Altman made of it, in 1973, with Elliott Gould as Marlowe. He, too, was looking for a vanished man with an English spouse, on the verge of the Pacific, and his search, like Doc’s, involved poking around a sanatorium for the mentally vexed, but what lent the puzzle its loose charm was the fact that Marlowe could only just be bothered to solve it, as opposed to staying home with his cat. At least there was a solution; to the ardent Pynchonite, however, making sense of any mystery makes no sense at all. The nailing of one crime will simply reveal another, deeper one, and then another, and so on, until you arrive at the vision of a society that is already cracked and crazed. Does Anderson stay loyal to that vision for two and a half hours? Absolutely. Will his audience be overjoyed to realize, around the ninety-minute mark, just how little of “Inherent Vice” is going to be wrapped up nice and neat? Hmm.”

Good Heavens, two invocations of our favorite movie of all time.  The Long Goodbye was Robert Altman’s best film, and unquestionably the greatest performance of Elliott Gould’s career.  It updated the Raymond Chandler novel to have Gould as Philip Marlowe in 1973 LA.  It also had amateur actors making their debut, from Jim Bouton, the baseball player, who plays the sleazoid Terry Lennox, to Nina Van Pallandt, the mystery woman of the Clifford Irving hoax, not to mention great performances from Henry Gibson, Sterling Hayden, and yes, people, the debut of Sylvestor Stallone.  (He played a hapless bodyguard.)

If ever there was a worthy antecedent of Inherent Vice, it is The Long Goodbye, and if you want to kill a little time between now and when the former is finally available outside of New York and LA, go download it.  You’ll thank me later.

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